Extreme Patience Required (EPR)

I have a son, who will remain unnamed in case he reads this someday, who likes to take his time…all the time. He has little sense of urgency. This becomes a source of frustration for each family member when we are rushing to an event or have to honor a commitment and are pressed for time. 
Whether it’s eating, dressing up, homeschooling, or finishing responsibilities, his tendency is to delay, be distracted, and lose focus. Over the years, Edric and I have disciplined and trained him to be otherwise but it continues to be a challenge. Edric even got him a watch so he could use it to track his time but he lost it! 

Extreme patience is often required of us as we teach and train our son. Furthermore, we have to carefully consider the positive side of his personality type. Because he is such a chill person and so easy going, he isn’t a reactive, easily angered person. He doesn’t make demands on others, harbor bitterness, and his default disposition is joyfulness. So Edric and I have to manage the tension between training him and encouraging his God-given uniqueness. 

These past few days we have been in Dubai. Edric and I are here for a series of talks and business activities and we took the kids with us. Almost every meal, our son who likes to take his time is the last to finish. Before we head out the door, he is putting a shoe on, using the toilet, looking for a jacket, or in the middle of something he should have completed thirty minutes earlier. 

During one of these occasions when everyone was out the door and he hobbled out of it with one shoe on and a sock and a shoe in his hand, I asked him what he was doing for the last hour and his reply was, “Umm…I was swiveling around in the chair of the room.” 

Seriously, he can do absolutely nothing for stretches of time and find this deeply gratifying. He’s a stop-to-smell-the-roses kind of person…”stopping” being the key word. 

Like I said, this personality type comes with its strengths. However, Edric and I move about so quickly that it’s tiring to wait for this son of ours to mobilize. This trip has magnified his character flaw, so it has been a real lesson in patience for both of us. 

I nearly failed as a parent when this son lost a piece of his expanders (it’s like a retainer for the mouth to open up the jaw). The accident happened after he forgot to be ready at the hour we agreed upon and Edric and I had to get to the venue of a seminar we were speaking at. Edric couldn’t be delayed so he went ahead to set up his laptop while I tried to hurry our son along.

Unfortunately, a very important piece of his expanders flew out of its container and landed on a tiled floor that had patterns which completely camouflaged the piece. So I nearly cried in aggravation as this accident required me to get down on my hands and knees while in my heels to comb through each surface area of the tiled floor to feel for the piece. 

This is ridiculous!, I thought to myself. Why does __________________ do these things?! Ahhhh!!!! 

Meanwhile my son showed no distress whatsoever which kind of irked me! I reminded him, “You can’t do this…make everyone wait for you. It’s inconsiderate. It’s something you have to change and improve on, okay?”

I am glad the annoyance came out of me in that way rather than shouting at him like I felt compelled to do. My patience had reached its limit and it took the grace of God to contain my irritation! Thankfully, I was about to do a ministry activity with Edric which kept me mindful of my responses. But if I hadn’t been in prayer that day, or spent a good chunk of it preparing for my talk and being in the Word of God, I am sure my emotions would have taken over in a very ugly manner. 

We didn’t find the piece after about ten minutes of searching which was all I could spare before my seminar. So the kids and I left the hotel room and hung a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door knob so we could resume our search later on in the evening. At the end of our day, our son did his best to find the piece and recover it which was good news. (These expanders are pricey!) 

Edric and I have considered how to help him after our speaking engagement. I believe the root problem for him is discipline. He has to train his mind to plan wisely and resist the impulses he feels to move on to something else when there is a task at hand. He also needs to discipline his body so that it follows the dictates of his mind. 

Here are some solutions that Edric and I intend to apply:

1. Don’t stop training him until he develops a sense of urgency, proactive-ness, and responsibility. As tiring as it may be to keep telling him the same thing over and over again, the burden is on us to do so until he internalizes and applies these things on his own. 

2. Stay beside him when he homeschools and eats his meals so we can monitor him. Yesterday evening, I sat beside him and he downed his soup and pasta in a fraction of the time it usually takes him. This is because I got to remind him constantly and reach over to rub his back every time he got distracted. 

3. Commend him when he puts effort into quickening his pace. Because he gets corrected a lot, we don’t want him to grow up with insecurities or feel like he is compared to his siblings who don’t have the same issue. So we have to balance out our training with affirmation, too. This also means communicating to him that he is unconditionally loved and accepted, too. 

4. Correct him in private. His siblings tend to feel the same annoyance that we do towards his mannerisms and personality, so it’s unhealthy for them to hear us correct him in front of them. This will only fuel their aggravation. 

5. Edric intends to spend more focused time with him. After all, he’s a boy and there’s nothing like the attention and mentoring of a father to a son. 

6. Extend grace. This son of ours makes mistakes quite often and as tempting as it is to lose our tempers with him, we absolutely cannot as it will destroy the seeds of faith that have been planted in his heart. Our greater desire for him is that he loves and obeys the Lord. If we do not respond to him in ways that are spirit-filled, and if we do not ask for forgiveness when we fail in this area, we will push him farther away from us and this goal. 

7. Thank the Lord for Him. His personality is a blessing and his life is a beautiful gift. Does he need to keep improving in certain areas? Of course. But it doesn’t make him less special or important to us or the Lord. So we need to thank the Lord for being intentional about giving us a son with his unique traits.

8. Pray. Edric and I need to remember that we can’t control our kids. We may be able to train them and discipline them, but their hearts are another matter. This is God’s department. He is the one who causes real transformation of the heart so that the behavior follows. Prayer acknowledges our dependence on Him to make this happen. 

I don’t know if this son of ours sounds like one of your kids. But if he does, be encouraged. Faithful discipleship always produces fruit. 

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:11‬ ‭


 

God Loves Single Moms

After Edric and I give parenting talks, many single moms come up to us feeling discouraged and anxious because of our emphasis on the role of a father. They tend to fear that their children will not grow up with the support and mentoring they need from a dad. We often encourage them by saying that God is gracious and then give them practical tips on how to parent alone. However, our vantage point is still different and single parenting is best explained from the perspective of someone who is actually in a position to say what the challenges are and how to surmount them.


Last weekend, Edric and I were in Cebu with friends Mel and Cathy Po, where we had the privilege of speaking alongside actress, Jodi Sta. Maria to a large gathering of Ateneo parents. Jodi shared her journey as a single mother and she itemized these life lessons: 

Security – a child longs for security. It’s possible for a single parent to meet this need by being available and creating a home environment where a child knows that unconditional love and forgiveness abound.

Identity – a single mom’s identity has to be rooted in the Lord and she has to transfer this truth to her child/ren as well. God is father to the fatherless and husband to the husband-less. When a single mother understands how much God loves her, she doesn’t have to worry about how others label her or judge her. Her identity is hidden in Christ, therefore her joy and peace also come from her relationship with Him. These are not dependent on circumstances or others. 

Non-negotiable Date Time – Since single moms tend to get busy trying to provide financially for their child/children, it’s important to safeguard date nights with them. These are predictable moments in the week when children can look forward to bonding time with mom. 

God-centered Parenting – Pschologists, the media, and books will have all kinds of opinions about how single parents should teach, train, and raise their children. However, the best source is still God’s word. He is the author of parenting. Principles such as Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go so that when he is older he will not depart from it, and Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and teach your children to do the same, are still applicable to solo parents and their kids. 

Love as Motivation – Children are inspired to change, to improve, to excel when they know with certainty that they are loved. Unconditional love is a powerful motivator. Not only should our children be assured that we love them no matter what, we also have to make choices for them that are based on unconditional love verses selfishness. Whether single parent or not, this is a real struggle. “Let all that you do be done in love.”‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:14‬ ‭

Educate Yourself – Every parent needs a doctorate degree in parenting. But no school exists for this sort of degree! So we have to attend biblical parenting seminars, read books, and surround ourselves with parents who have successfully raised their own children so we can learn from their mistakes and victories. Edric and I continue to grow in our parenting from getting together with other couples who are also committed to teaching and training their children. We exchange “best practices.” Single parents can do the same. 

Memories Last Forever – Invest in memories. Some of my fondest memories are of my childhood years, sitting around the dinner table as a family, exercising together, traveling, and vacations. These are forever imprinted in my heart and mind…as they will also be for kids of single parents who deposit fond memories into the emotional banks of their kids. 

Overcome the Circumstance as a Family – I would like to add that you can have a new “team” of people who will become your child’s family to provide the emotional and spiritual support you both need. No parent should be an island. “It takes a village to raise a child” is such a true statement. So find that village of people. Maybe it’s your parents who can come along side you to help you parent. Or maybe it’s a sibling and his or her family who can be part of your child’s growing up years to fill in the gaps. 

Manage Your Time and Priorities – When I had the chance to ask Jodi (who is super humble and down to earth) how she balances being an actress and parenting her son, she revealed, “I don’t take on multiple projects at a time. I used to, but I don’t anymore.” 

She admitted that she has earned the freedom and respect from the industry to turn projects down, which is a blessing from the Lord. However, I am sure it’s not easy to say no to good sources of income as a single mom. Jodi is a great example of someone who works hard to be a provider but recognizes that God is her ultimate provider. Prioritizing her son, as well as giving time for her weekly discipleship group, speaks volumes about her desire to put what’s most important first. It’s no wonder God is also blessing her career! 

I want to end this entry with a passage that I read a few days ago that I feel is so perfect for single moms. Whether you are a widow or abandoned by the man who should have been committed father to your child, may this minister to you. God loves you, single mom! If you honor Him and obey Him, He will certainly uphold you and provide for you. 

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. ‘For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. ‘For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,’ says your God. 

‘For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer.

‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ Says the LORD who has compassion on you. ‘O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires…All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great.’

‘In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you. No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:4-8, 10-11, 13-14, 17‬ ‭

Technology and Hands-on Learning

Last year I was introduced to a company called Smart Toys, a distributor of learning materials that combine technology and hands-on learning. One of their products is called Marbotic — learning materials that were created by “tech-lovers and education experts to blend traditional wooden toys and touchscreen technology.”

Smart Numbers teach kids to count using ten beautiful wooden numbers and three educational apps inspired by the Montessori method. Smart Letters combine three apps and twenty six wooden letters to help kids learn reading and writing.

Catalina tested the Smart Letters out and she thoroughly enjoyed taking each letter and placing it on the screen to hear it’s name, sound and discover what words begin with the letter.

Marbotic is unique because it engages children with tactile experiences as they learn, but it also harnesses the advantages of technology. Although it’s a little pricey, it’s one of those educational toys/materials that you can use with succeeding children. The wooden letters and numbers are well-made, sturdy, and don’t require batteries.


Children as young as one year old can handle these with supervision and by three they can learn independently.

I also asked my kids and their cousins to sample Smart Toys‘ 3D coloring books which come in four different titles–Dino, Ocean, Safari, Bird. After kids color the pictures, they can pair them with a free app that makes their art come to life.

Other notable educational products by Smart Toys are Augmented Reality (AR) Books. These AR books come to life when you scan them with your smartphone or tablet. There are seven titles — Dino, Ocean, Safari, Farm Animals, Bug, Herptile, and Birds. 

Kids can read about creatures come to life on a page! It’s augmented reality for educational purposes. 
As a homeschool mom, I am thrilled that there are so many materials out there that I can use to teach my kids. My mom taught my siblings and I using textbooks with newsprint pages. We survived and did fine because that’s all we really had to choose from. Today, however, homeschool parents have a plethora of options for every bent and interest of their children. This is the best time in the world to be a homeschooler! 

For more information on Smart Toys please contact 0917-8877959 or follow @smartoysph on Instagram. 

 

We Don’t Need More Crazy Moms

I have been spending time with women friends, exchanging notes about their relationships with their mothers and it breaks my heart to hear story after story about their “crazy” moms– moms who are self-absorbed, bitter, broken, unkind, play favorites, and suffer from identity issues. 
There are valid reasons behind the bad parenting choices these moms have made, but they may never fully realize how deeply they have wounded their daughters, women who are my friends, who are moms just like me. It’s miraculous that these women friends are turning out to be such wonderful moms themselves. That’s the grace of God in their lives. However, it’s also sobering to be confronted by the reality that my thoughts, words, and actions matter so much to my own girls. I can become a version of “crazy” if I am not spirit-filled and resort to hurting them, too. 


To be honest, there are times when I do. As a homeschooling mom, wrestling with impatience is an everyday struggle. Even if I don’t yell at my kids, I feel very exasperated when they don’t understand a concept I have repeatedly taught them, or when it’s hard for them to exercise logic and common sense when a lesson seems easy and basic. Sometimes this aggravation manifests itself in deep sighs, rolling eyeballs, or negative comments that make my kids feel inadequate and insecure.

Just the other day, I was teaching Tiana math and she forgot how to count to 100 by 5s. Irked at how quickly the lesson faded from her consciousness, I snapped at her and gesticulated with my hands like I was in pain, “I don’t understand. This isn’t hard. What’s wrong? Why can’t you get it?” 
As I mouthed this out, I gripped the pages of her math book in my hands and motioned like I was going to tear it in half. Even if I wanted to, I really couldn’t have because I mistakenly held onto a portion of the book that was too thick. 

Tiana noticed all of this, of course. She self-consciously bowed her head to a point where I could still see her beautiful eyes, now troubled, looking up at me with concern and fear. She probably wondered what I would do next and the rest of the kids visibly displayed their anxiety as well. 

My heart sank. What was I doing?! An immediate apology was necessary to abate everyone’s tension. I took Tiana in my arms and said, “Please forgive me, Tiana, for getting irritated. I love you. I was wrong.” 

I felt horrid, a big time failure as a mom, as a homeschooler. 

Why was I so worked up about Tiana’s inability to count by 5s? And why did this display of frustration and rejection on my part have to happen again to my sweet girl? (I wrote about a similar entry earlier last year.) 

Well, just like the moms my friends described, I have the same tendency to be controlled by my emotions, to act out of arrogance, fear, and selfishness. The real me is an ugly person whose default mode is to express this ugliness unless I am controlled by the Holy Spirit. 
Over the past weekend, one of the topics of a retreat we attended as a family was the “Exchanged Life.” The speaker, a good friend of Edric and mine, delivered a powerful message that can be summed up in the phrase, NO LONGER I BUT CHRIST. 

I praise God that He didn’t just save us from our sins, He equipped us to overcome what is broken and ugly in all of us. He gave us the power to be victorious over our common follies and common mistakes by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in us when we come into a relationship with Him through Christ. 

Most days I am not a crazy mom and this is because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life but it doesn’t mean I don’t have “crazy” in me. It lurks and waits for opportune occasions to bear itself, fangs, horns, and all, and the damage is not to be diminished.  

To the moms who can identify with this struggle and to those who grew up in homes where they never felt unconditionally loved or accepted by their mothers, might I encourage you with this: We don’t have to pass on the hurts our mothers wounded us with, and we don’t have to be the kind of moms who give in to the crazy in us. We have a God who loves us and redeems our pasts, and who secures our future. He is committed to helping us be the moms we need to be, no matter how we were mothered ourselves or how challenging it may be to fulfill this role in the present. However, we have to make some hard choices.


First, we may need to ask for forgiveness from our daughters. And we may need to forgive our moms (even if they never say sorry.) If we don’t, bitterness will defile us and those whom we love. 

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:14-15‬ ‭

Next, we have to invest in relationship-building activities and routines that minister to the hearts of our daughters. It can be reading to them, learning to cook together, taking walks, having “tea or coffee” (my mom does this with my sisters, sisters-in-law, and me periodically), going to the grocery or doing errands together, giving random hugs and being generous with words of appreciation for their character, their talents, and abilities. The point is to do with them and for them what matters to them, what makes them feel special and important. 

Two nights ago, my eldest son, Elijah, reminded me to tuck Tiana into bed when he carried his little sister, Catalina, into the girls’ bedroom. Tiana remained awake, unwilling to retire until I prayed and kissed her goodnight. I happened to be caught up in a long conversation with a friend who needed some counseling so I assumed that Tiana fell asleep.
By this time, I had comfortably settled in to sleep but Elijah’s reminder encouraged me to inconvenience myself to be with her. I stepped into her darkened room quietly and caught sight of her sitting up in anticipation, hoping I hadn’t forgotten. She smiled with relief as I came to her side to smother her with a kiss and hug, and pray with her.

“Were you waiting for me?” 

She nodded and then peacefully slipped under the covers and closed her eyes. 

That moment gave me a picture of what daughters are like. All daughters, no matter what season or age, are hoping that we will notice them, accept them, and desire to be with them. Let us break the cycle of pain we inherited or the one we initiated by meeting their need for our affection, attention, and affirmation so that we can create a cycle love that our daughters will pass on to their future families. 

Teaching Kids To Be Responsible for their Choices 

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid rescuing my kids when they make mistakes. I have to resist the urge to save them because my maternal instinct tells me to protect and cradle my children. However, some of them aren’t tiny tots anymore. They don’t need pampering from me. In fact, to do so might even be a disservice to their character growth in the area of learning responsibility and accountability. 

A few months ago, one of my sons lost his temper while playing on the piano. In his irritation, he banged on the keys with full force. Since it was an older piano, something inside (too technical for me to explain) collapsed, causing all the keys to become unplayable. He confessed his mistake to me which I appreciated, however an appropriate consequence was necessary. His hard-earned garage money went to paying for the repair of the piano. 

Did I feel like showing him mercy? Of course! But I knew this consequence would instill in him the values of stewardship and exercising self-control over one’s emotions. 

As my kids grow up, their consequences have to be modified. For example, after the age of 6 or 7, spanking isn’t as appropriate a form of punishment anymore. Furthermore, they pretty much get obedience and respect. Praise God! It’s the other character areas that begin to need work…things like discipline and responsibility. 

Very recently, I encouraged the kids to get rid of some of our cats by entrusting them to friends or family members who were willing to take them. However, they insisted on keeping all the cats for themselves. We now have seven. Too many! Five Siamese and three black and yellow-eyes ones. (The black ones I don’t particularly fancy because of their naughtiness). It’s impractical for us to feed this many felines and the impact on our monthly groceries is significant. 

My deal with the kids when it comes to their animals is, “I will take care of you, my kids (aka my animals), and you will take care of your animals.” 

So whatever needs the cats have beyond food is their look-out. When their kittens got some sort of skin problem, the kids begged me to bring them to the vet. They kept asking me to but it wasn’t a priority for me because of the busy-ness of the holiday season. However a a week ago when the hustle and bustle died down there was a window to take the cats to the vet. 

At first, I thought of inconveniencing myself to do it for them. But then a lightbulb went on in my head as I realized that this could be a great learning experience for my kids. 

I told my kids, “You guys will be the one to bring the cats and pay for the fees incurred by the visit to the vet.” 

Thankfully, there was minimal resistance. I armed them with my cell phone, but asked them to take along their own cash. I did hand Elijah my ATM just in case they didn’t have enough of their own money. Looking back, this was a bad idea, for safety reasons. Plus, I caught Elijah trying to slip my ATM into his shoe for safekeeping! Thankfully, I saw him before he plowed his foot on top of it. 

The extent of my meddling was preventing him from crushing my ATM with his foot and advising him to carry a man-purse with his iPad in it, my phone, and the ATM. This was the extent of my meddling, but I did ask the driver to keep an eye out for them (without facilitating the discussion with the vet).

My four older kids dressed up, put their cats in cages and spent the morning at the pet clinic. They had to speak with the vet, explain the problem, ask their questions, and pay their fees. It took about three hours for them to wait their turn. They returned home hungry and tired for a late lunch at 1 P.M.

Admittedly, a part of me was concerned about whether they would be able to accomplish the task. Yet, every time I picked up Edric’s phone in order to call the kids, Edric dissuaded me, encouraging me to let them be and give them room to figure out what to do.

The good news was that the cat skin problem turned out to be a very curable lice issue that isn’t contagious to humans. The better news was that our kids matured during this experience, and learned a valuable lesson on responsibility. 

Waiting for three hours at the vet with dogs yapping all around them, and seeing one of their seven cats scratch up the arm of the attendant till it was bloodied, proved to be a new and unpleasant ordeal for my kids. However, they came home feeling a sense of pride for having braved through the experience without Edric or me to hand-hold them. And, they finally embraced what it means to be responsible pet owners. It’s costly to care of pets and they need to understand that it’s not the househelp’s or my role to worry about their animals. 

As for me, I am trying to transition out of the coddling parent stage with my older kids, especially because they are boys. They don’t need a hovering mother who micromanages them and fixes all their problems. It’s not easy for me to watch them fail, suffer the consequences of their choices when they make mistakes, or allow them to be “off on their own.” However, when I take a back seat during situations like these they learn accountability and responsibility effectively. My job is to partner with Edric to mentor them, pray, and entrust them to the Lord.

 

It Takes a Village

Edric, the kids and I usually head up to Baguio shortly before Christmas to be with family on my side. During our stay this week, my dad decided to resume the tradition of family bible studies. He led us through the Christmas story as the kids listened wide-eyed and curious, interjecting their questions and comments. 
What a delight to observe my kids and their cousins as they gathered around their “angkong” (grandpa). It reminded me of a scene from my own childhood, when my dad would open the Bible on quiet Sunday evenings to teach us Scriptural truth. 

In Baguio, he explained Matthew chapter 1 verse by verse, focusing on how the birth of Christ was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, and how the mention of women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheeba in the lineage of Christ revealed the grace of God. 

Tamar committed incest with her father in law, Judah; Rahab prostituted herself; Ruth was a Moabite; and King David slept with the very married Bathsheeba. My dad’s point was that God used imperfect and unlikely candidates to make up the genealogy of Jesus Christ. 

This tells us that God’s plan of salvation is greater than our past mistakes. He redeems what is broken in us, and He offers grace through His Son to all people. 

Since God keeps His promises and offers us His grace in the most unprejudiced way possible, Christmas is a time of great joy! Yet this joy isn’t fully realized until we trust and obey Him as Joseph and Mary did. My dad proceeded to explain that Joseph and Mary had to believe and cooperate with God’s plan for their lives. He challenged the grandkids to do the same. It was a wonderful two-part series Bible study for the grandkids. 

These are moments when I especially appreciate the blessing of family. Edric and I need a “village” to help us raise our kids, and this means the involvement of our greater family — grandparents, uncles and aunts. Even though we intentionally teach and train our kids, there remain to be many areas where the input and wisdom from others whom we trust is of great benefit.

The other day, when we were in the Ben Cab museum, Catalina rudely challenged my brother, Paul. He explicitly told her not to touch a work of art that she wasn’t supposed to and she defiantly did so. Reporting the incident to me immediately, Paul gave me the opportunity to deal with her appropriately. 


I pulled Catalina aside and she cried knowing that discipline was to follow. I didn’t spank her during this instance because we were at the gallery but a very serious talk about how she is to obey authorities ensued. She apologized to her Uncle Paul. Very much aware of her mistake, she remained penitent the rest of the afternoon. 

This morning, she voluntarily approached my brother to tell him, “I am obeying now, Uncle Paul,” and he commended her. 

Had Paul not bothered to tell me what happened or had I sided with Catalina defensively, I would have missed out on a moment to instill the concept of obedience to authority as something that extends past the context of parent and child.

I recall another occasion when my dad called out a character issue in Tiana, who ungratefully received a gift from him last December. She cried in disappointment, neglecting to say thank you for being given a gift at all. So my dad suggested that this year, our focus ought to be encouraging the kids to think about the needs of others. He tasked us to take the children to minister in underprivileged areas. 


It turned out to be a great recommendation. We brought the kids to Payatas where they got to look into actual homes and visually experience how little people have. Afterwards, one of our kids commented, “We need to do more for the poor! We need to find more ways to help them!” 

Early this year, my father in law lovingly corrected my mothering of Elijah. He cautioned me against doting on him too much. As a young man, Elijah didn’t need me to hover over him, micromanage his life or cripple him by doing for him what he can do for himself. Furthermore, I had to give him room to gravitate towards Edric, who could better mentor him during this transition into young manhood. This made a lot of sense but it wasn’t an easy reality to swallow. 

Edric and I continue to appreciate the correction and advice of the “village” people who surround our family. Sometimes it hurts to hear them point out flaws in our parenting or character areas our children need to improve on. Yet, their counsel is, more often the not, of great value to us as we grow through the different seasons and challenges of being parents to five kids. 


As the Bible so wisely puts it, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs‬ ‭11:14

At the same time, it’s important and necessary to filter through the counsel people give us so that it conforms to Biblical principles. Furthermore, recommendations from others that require major changes in the way we parent our kids have to be discussed by Edric and me so that we are in agreement that the change is necessary.

No parent has motherhood or fatherhood all figured out. So if you and I have people in our lives that can make up a village of godly counsellors to help raise our children then praise God! If we don’t, let’s pray for people to come along side us who can spur us on toward better parenting. There is gain to be had from the willingness to listen to the perspectives and insights of others. 

Here Comes the Knight 

After a hectic and action-packed two months, I crashed, emotionally and spiritually. All the speaking engagements, events, projects, ministry activities, and social gatherings ate into my homeschooling hours with the kids. As a result, the quality of our homeschool mornings was compromised. 

My relationship with Edric also suffered. Although we spent a lot of time together, our interactions weren’t tender or meaningful. Both of us had to focus on the tasks we were committed to. Like soldiers, we dutifully worked along side each other and accomplished our projects. However, we missed eight consecutive date nights which was a big deal for us! These had to be set aside to accommodate our busy-ness. 

I praise God for Edric’s intuitiveness when it comes to my personality. Since I am a closet introvert, no one really knows the internal struggle I deal with when I don’t have breaks in between activities. However, Edric can often tell when I am not exactly my self. He is sensitive to the slightest changes in my disposition. 

One afternoon when I was lying on our bed, listlessly fixated on the nondescript white paint of our bedroom ceiling, Edric opportunely sat down beside me. He turned my face to his and invited me into a conversation, attempting to gauge how I was doing emotionally and spiritually. After I articulated that I wouldn’t be able to survive another quarter like the one we were in, he reassuringly uttered the words, “Don’t worry, honey, I will take care of you.” 

With his full attention on me, coupled with his sincere attempt to offer comfort, I caved in to the strength he offered and let myself be weak in his arms. It felt like a safe place to display vulnerability, so I let the pressure spill out of me and the tears came freely. For the first time in weeks I enjoyed relief, as I remembered that God placed Edric in my life to watch over me. Afterwards, Edric stayed by my side until he was certain that I understood how committed he was to my well-being. 

His conclusion: I will protect your schedule. He agreed that the last two months were impossible to sustain in 2017 — the multiple conferences, out of town and out of country trips almost every week to speak and serve others, plus counseling, ministry, homeschooling, and parenting in between were too many good things crammed into an unrealistic time frame. When preoccupations shift the scale in the opposite direction of family, Edric is the first to recognize that something has to change. 

I am so thankful to the Lord that he gave me a husband who has risen up to the role of protector. Even though I didn’t think I needed him to be this for me when I got married, I have appreciated the way he has looked out for me (and our kids). It’s an undeserved blessing from the Lord. Plus, I have to admit that there’s a romantic bone in me that is attracted to Edric’s chivalry. 


Protectiveness comes in many forms. Here are some of the ways that Edric has protected me (and the kids.):

He exerts strength to shield the kids and me from physical harm. Sometimes this is as simple as putting us on the safe side of the pedestrian lane when we are on it. Or, it’s bringing a night stick when we go walking so he can use it to ward off aggressive dogs or intimidate rude bystanders. He is perpetually on the look out for us when we are in public places, mindful of where we are so he doesn’t lose any of us. If we were in an actual battle, I don’t doubt that he would sacrifice himself on the front lines to fight for us, too.

Meeting my need for emotional security is also an act of protection. This alleviates any fears I may have about losing his love or his attraction to me. It liberates me to give herself freely to him, especially in the area of intimacy. 

Edric also takes charge of our finances so that I don’t have to worry about playing the role of provider. When I do earn money, it becomes a bonus. Another wise thing he did was to invest in insurance options that would meet our monetary needs should something untoward happen to him. 

There’s protection in the form of spiritual leadership as well. This is what I value most. When Edric is gatekeeper of the home and stands as its guardian, he keeps out demonic and negative influences that can seduce the hearts and minds of our family. He does this by establishing guidelines about what we watch, see, and listen to. 

Sometimes Edric also needs to filter through the activities that I participate in to help me discern whether these are aligned with God’s purpose and will for my life. (He does this with our kids, too.)

Since Edric intentionally disciples the kids and me, this preserves our unity in the faith and places us in a position to receive the blessing of the Lord. His prayers to the Lord on our behalf are a means to spiritually cover against harm. Furthermore, his example of godliness and love for the Lord establishes the credibility of his authority, and inspires us to deny sin and follow God’s will. When we make wrong choices, Edric helps us to review what we could have done better to safeguard us from the pain of future mistakes. 
There’s a special blessing upon the family of a man who honors God. Psalms 128:1-4 declares, “How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.” 

While no husband is perfect, and this includes Edric, there is a wonderful atmosphere of calm and peace in our home because we know that there’s a godly and trustworthy man in charge of our welfare. (Ephesians 5:23)

If you are married and want a great article on the protective role of husbands, here’s one written from a man’s perspective, by Tim Challieshttp://www.challies.com/christian-living/leadership-in-the-home-a-godly-man-protects

Relax, Mom. It’s All Part of the Grand Plan.

On the flight to Dubai, after five hours of insufficient sleep, I decided to watch the movie, Bad Moms. Contrary to what its title implies, there were some insightful principles in it about motherhood. I don’t necessarily recommend the movie because of its immoral elements but I do think it had something to say about how we try to be so perfect as mothers that we kind of drive ourselves crazy living up to this expectation of ourselves. We stress out!

Sometimes we need to just chill and remember that God is in control. We need to rest in Him. 

This message came at just the right time for me. Recently, I have felt very inadequate as a mom. Elijah is going through puberty and Edan is dealing with doubts about faith and truth. Plus I still have a rambunctious toddler, Catalina, who attaches herself to me like glue. In between, are Titus and Tiana who still need me to be very hands-on as a homeschool parent. So on some days I want to find a rock to crawl under.

Of particular concern to me lately has been Edan. He is swimming in questions about theology and faith, struggling to understand mysteries like the Trinity, predestination, the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of Scripture and its divine inspiration, and I am not always able to allay his doubts. Who can explain the Trinity?! 


Sometimes Edan ends up crying and confused, wondering how he can believe in truths he cannot fully grasp. It hurts to watch him on this journey because I cannot force him along or hurry him. The battle is inside, beyond where I can see and go as a mother. I have cried to the Lord in prayer for Edan. And there are moments when my heart turns critical, maddened by his inability to connect dots and reason sensibly, or apply faith when necessary.

In Ecclesiastes it says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”

It goes on to read, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart…” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8, 11a)

Even though I have read these passages numerous times, they ministered to me in a new way by reminding me of the following:

– There is an APPOINTED TIME for everything. 

– There is a TIME FOR EVERY EVENT under heaven.

– He (God) has made everything APPROPRIATE in its time.

– He has also SET ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS. 

An appointed time implies purpose, intentionality. There is nothing accidental or chance-like about what happens in our lives, or in the lives of our children. Even if this juncture in the timeline of my history as a mom may feel out of control and chaotic, it’s a designated season. It is God-ordained. The same is true for Edan’s endless spiritual questioning and struggling. This is part of God’s plan for him.

Secondly, since there is a time for every event under heaven, this tells me that this season is important and necessary. And whew, it also implies that it’s temporal. Edan won’t linger in this state forever. 

Some seasons are easy, some are hard and painful, others are devastating, and still others, hopeful and joyous. This season of motherhood is painful for me…not in a tragic sort of manner but in a sobering sense. My two older sons are moving past the age of childhood. It’s a transition accompanied by emotional and spiritual complexities and I have to quit panicking! I can’t dwell on the changes they are going thorough (especially the changes in Edan), and think, I am losing my sons. 

Ecclesiastes continues by revealing that He (God) has made everything appropriate—a word which sounds so comfortingly like “customized and personalized.” In other words, God’s sovereign hand directs the course of every event in our lives and our children’s. His wisdom decides when the length of a season is enough, and what sort of season we need to walk through in order to build our character. 

My kids are growing in character, and I often think that they need to. But guess what? I need to grow in character, too! 

In the early months of this year, I kind of felt like I hit a good groove as a mom. My homeschooling was going well. The kids seemed behaved and “manageable.” I no longer had an infant, and breastfeeding came to an end. To be honest, I slacked off with my prayer time and switched to cruise control. 

However, when Edan began bombarding me with difficult questions and Elijah’s hormonal changes started to impact his moods and lower his threshold for frustration, I was jolted out of my complacency. Suddenly I felt insecure and lost as a mom.

Yet God used this for my good. Confronted by the reality that all my efforts at teaching, training and modeling cannot force my kids to desire God or His will drove me to pray fervently and tearfully for my children. My ambitions for my kids were whittled down to the most important of all—that they might grow up to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God. 

I know this, right? I have said it over and over again in my posts. But wow, this is when the rubber hits the road. 

Edan’s conversation with me a few weeks ago made me realize that my greatest longing as a mom is that my kids enter into eternity, to be welcomed by their Heavenly Father with the words, “Well done.” Wealth, power, fame, worldly accomplishments and accolades pale against this highest goal, especially when I consider the possibility that my kids’ souls are at risk. 

Mark 8:36 begs me to ponder, “For what does it profit a man (my child) to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” ‭

As Edan and I carried on a lengthy and exhausting dialogue about whether Jesus Christ’s claims were real, I delved into the wonders of faith-filled living, excited to illuminate for him the uncommon peace and joy that mark the lives of those who follow Christ. Beyond historical and prophetical evidence for the existence of Christ, this was another way for me to prove to Edan that Jesus is real. I thought it was a solid pitch.

Contrary to my expectations, Edan’s eyes welled up as he replied to me, “Mom, those are your experiences. I have yet to experience those things for myself.” 

My bubble of enthusiasm burst as I recognized, for the first time, that Edan’s main issue with truth was that it had been “secondhand” for him since he was a young boy. He needed to encounter Christ personally. 

Of course my heart collapsed at that moment when the sincerity of his tears and my inability to comfort him met each other. It was at this point that I surrendered to the reality that God has to be to be the one to open Edan’s eyes. Only God can cause the years of Bible reading, family devotions, the memorization of Scriptural truth, parental instruction and training, and the example Edric and I displayed for Edan to come to a point of convergence so that he sees and understands who God is. The decision to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God must be Edan’s. It can’t be something Edric and I impose on him. 

So where lies my hope?

Like Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, I am praying that the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to EDAN a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of EDAN’s heart may be enlightened, so that he will know what is the hope of His (Christ’s) calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (Christ’s) inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His (Christ’s) power toward those who believe…” (Ephesians‬ ‭1:16-18)‬ ‭

The day when it all makes sense to Edan will come at its appointed time. Till then, I am learning to relax as a mom. Everything that is happening in our family at present is part of God’s grand plan. And my kids going through difficult changes and seasons in their lives doesn’t mean I have been a bad mom — neglectful, hypocritical, or ill-tempered. By God’s grace I haven’t been those things. However, there’s much room for character improvement in me still. This is an appointed time in my life for me to embrace humble dependence on the Lord, to acknowledge that I don’t have it all together, that I am insufficient and incapable of performing the greater heart work that only God can do effectively in my kids. 

So this is me…relaxing…or at least, trying to! 


As my husband, Edric, advised, “Let’s continue to do our part and be faithful. Beyond that, don’t worry, hon. God is in control.” 

I hope this comforts you today, moms! 

One of the Hardest Things About Being a Parent

One of the biggest challenges that Edric and I face daily is that our kids see us up close and personal everyday. This requires us to be extra conscious about the values, attitudes, and perspectives we role model to them.

I remember a few weeks ago, I asked my kids, “What do you think mommy is passionate about?” I hoped they would answer, “You love God and follow God.” But to my surprise, they unanimously agreed that I was passionate about MY CELLPHONE!

Goodness, gracious!

To defend myself, I explained, “You know that my Bible is on my phone, and I blog and minister to others through my phone.” But they didn’t seem convinced.

The reality is I do read my Bible using my phone and it is a tool for ministry, but apparently, they perceived it more as an addiction of some sort. So I had to apologize to them and take their answer to heart. (And I’ve decided to dig up my Life Application Bible so they see me holding it, instead of my phone!)

Growing up I remember that my parents were convincingly passionate about loving God and serving Him. They remain the same way today. My mom is the type of person who shares the gospel with anything that lives and breathes. It’s top of mind for her when she gets on an airplane and someone sits next to her. She’s constantly praying for an opportunity to insert the good news of God’s love.

As for my dad, he pours over God’s Word for hours each day. He spends a good part of his morning in communion with the Lord up in his study room. (It’s a blessing that my brothers run the family business so my dad has time to study the Bible and busy himself with ministry. I know not everyone has the same set of circumstances.)

The point is this: our children need to connect what we are passionate about our love for God. If we can’t live contagiously as Christians, then our children aren’t going to get infected by us.

One of the most effective ways to be a good model to our kids is to model humility. Very recently, I appreciated how Edric demonstrated this to our children. (I am sharing this with his permission.)

We traveled to Baguio for a conference two weekends ago, and the morning of our event, Edric’s hair brush magically disappeared. He’s particular about his stuff and it’s unusual for him to lose an item like this. So he assumed that the kids took it and put it somewhere in the hotel room. None of us knew where it was and none of us were guilty. However, due to his agitation over the missing hairbrush, he saidgl, “You guys BETTER find it or someone is going to be in trouble.”

At that moment, I wanted to speak up in defense of our children, and call him out on his irritated tone. But God reminded me to be silent and pray instead. (This is often the precursor to Edric coming to a point of conviction because the Holy Spirit softens his heart. My blabbing and reactiveness don’t work.)

In the process of looking for the brush, the kids began to sound annoyed with one another. To correct this, Edric called their attention and gave a quick lecture on speaking to one another in a kindly manner. Once again, I had to subdue my own critical spirit. To me it looked like our kids were copying the tone Edric previously used with them when he got upset about his hairbrush.

The kids and I finally trooped down to get breakfast as we needed to hurry along to catch our call-time at the event venue. We waited for Edric who came down to pray with us, and the first thing he humbly said was, “Kids, will you forgive me for my tone? Will you forgive me for being a bad example and getting annoyed about my brush? I told you all to speak to one another in a nice way and I didn’t do that myself. Please forgive me.”

Of course the children did and I smiled knowing that it was the Lord who touched Edric’s heart.

It’s not easy for a father to admit his mistakes to his kids, but what an amazing effect this kind of authenticity has on them. It’s also a great reminder for me to do the same.

Children are allergic to hypocrisy. A sure-fire of turning them away from loving and following God is to expose them to parents who preach these values and do the opposite at home. So Edric and I must have a heightened awareness for the attitudes, perspectives, and actions we display. Our children are watching us and forming conclusions about the kinds of attitudes and perspectives they will internalize, and the actions they will exhibit when faced with difficult circumstances, people-problems, and challenging choices. What will they copy in us? I pray we can say with confidence and grace what the Apostle Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he told the church ag Corinth, “Copy me, as I copy Christ.”

And, let’s face it…we are going to make make mistakes, so let’s learn to model humility. Children easily forgive when we don’t let their heart-wounds pile up. I have seen this over and over again in our family.

The same is true for marriage, too! Let’s model humility to our spouses by asking for forgiveness when we make mistakes…the big ones and the small ones. We can also add the bonus question, “How can I improve?” This line works wonders to repair hurt in a relationship.

Finally, let me end with this: Good role models inspire positive change in those who watch their lives closely. If those who watch us are becoming more like Christ, then praise God, we must be modeling something right! 

 
 


Math and Mommy Meltdowns

I can’t remember a time when I’ve cried in front of my children because I was so frustrated with homeschooling. But I suppose there is a first time for everything.

Two weekends ago, I attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference. The Monday after, I was full of hopeful expectation. After listening to inspiring talks and workshop speakers, I eagerly began the week thinking that all would go well. Furthermore, our family housed one of the speakers – a pastor who told endless stories about parenting and homeschooling his 10 kids. (Yes, 10.) His wonderful recollections about their farm life and the Christ-centered culture of their family fueled me with aspirations about the kind of homeschooling experience Edric and I ought to have with our kids.

However, on Monday my kids woke up de-motivated, disinterested, and difficult to teach. The older boys whined about the amount of work they had to get done. Tiana struggled with comprehension issues as we did her Singapore math.

I know the bonds thing can be difficult to understand in Singapore Math (like when you separate 10s from 1s when you are subtracting), but I thought for sure Tiana would have at least remembered what “ + “ and “ – “ mean. We had been doing addition and subtraction for a while so it surprised me when I asked her simple questions like, “So what’s 7 – 2?” and she answered with uncertainty, guessing her way to the right solution.

This went on for a few more math problems. And she kept confusing addition and subtraction and couldn’t add past 10. Then she forgot what the = sign stood for, too. My thought bubble was, You’re kidding me. This isn’t happening! Arghhh!!!

My other kids heard the stress in my voice as I interrogated Tiana several times. “Why can’t you get it? You know this already. This is not complicated.”

I wanted to scream but of course I couldn’t do that. During the conference I gave a seminar along side my mom about laying the right foundation for homeschooling and I encouraged parents not to yell at their kids…primarily because it renders us ineffective at teaching them to love God due to hypocrisy. So the frustration emerged via my tears. Burying my face in my arms and laying my head on the table, I busted out crying.

The room turned quiet. Seeing me cry while teaching was peculiar for my kids to witness. There was a moment when no one knew how to respond. Everyone paused what they were doing until I lifted my head, tears running down my cheeks and declared, “I’m a horrible teacher! I don’t know what to do! I can’t teach well. Tiana just can’t get it and I don’t understand why…” Part of me mouthed this out just to get my children’s sympathy and attention. This isn’t a tactic I recommend to homeschooling parents because it can be manipulative.

Poor Tiana looked on, no doubt embarrassed that I singled her out like this in front of her siblings, and shocked that her math book brought me to tears. My boys felt anxious and attempted to comfort me.

Elijah patted my back with one arm, and stretched out the other arm like a shield to ward off Catalina who was fast approaching me. “No, don’t disturb, mommy, Catalina.” He motioned to give me space.

Edan whispered, “I’ll help teach her, mom,” and he began to fold white paper to make flashcards for her. (What a sweetie!)

How could I react this way to such tender-hearted children? I love my kids. I love them even if they don’t “perform” academically. But I certainly didn’t make Tiana feel that way. And I’m sure the boys were burdened with guilt for complaining about their homeschool work that morning.

It didn’t make sense to continue math lessons with Tiana, especially on the topic of addition and subtraction using bonds, so I asked her to take a break. (Later on, I had to talk with her and apologized for hurting her feelings.) We all dismissed for lunch not too long after and I had time to process what triggered my meltdown.  

Maybe you can relate…

1. My expectations were high having come from the Philippine Homeschool Conference over the weekend. I wanted my kids to behave like perfect students – good attitudes, energized, and eager to listen to me and to learn. When they fell short of this expectation, I felt resentful.

2. I was relying on myself. I didn’t pause to pray or seek help from the Lord when the frustration built up. Had I translated circumstances from a spiritual perspective, I would have concluded that this was an opportunity to beseech the Lord and humble myself.

3. Tiana was being pressured to do math work that she wasn’t ready for. Even if it was required of her level, she simply hadn’t had enough concrete reinforcement for learning addition and subtraction, and she hadn’t had enough practice. Instead of insisting that she remember and “get it,” I should have said, “It’s okay, let’s do some reviewing first and then we will return to this lesson.”

Well, the next day, that’s exactly what I did. I set Tiana’s required math book aside. Eventually I intended to come back to it, but we needed to take a few steps back to give her more time to get comfortable with counting (backwards and forwards), and easy addition and subtraction.

Amazingly, she breezed through the work I gave her to do without needing much supervision from me. After a few days of remedial lessons she no longer confused her addition and subtraction symbols and she very ably solved her math problems.

Ironically, I advise parents to do the same thing when I give seminars on homeschooling. Don’t ignore the gaps in your child’s learning. Mind these gaps and backtrack if necessary. However, I wasn’t willing to take this advice myself! I wanted Tiana to be like her brothers, who easily understood arithmetic at her age. But God designed her differently. It’s me who has to adjust and accommodate her uniqueness, and to appreciate the pace at which she is learning concepts and skills.

Although we normally perceive U-turns and backtracking as inconvenient interruptions on the way to our academic goals, sometimes our kids need to go backwards in order to move forward. When our kids feel lost and insecure about tackling a lesson because they don’t have foundational skills or a solid grasp of the content to go further, then it’s our job to equip them by patiently addressing their gaps so they can progress towards where they ought to be. It’s a deterrent to their progress to force them to learn what they are not prepared to. And it drives us nuts to do so anyway!

To deal with the issue of my other kids who were complaining that Monday, I finally printed out their revised weekly schedules so they know exactly what to expect each day of the week. I’ve thought through the mix of activities and lessons they have to cover as well, so there is a good mix of rigor and fun.

How about me? What can I improve on as a homeschooling mom? I can think of 10 things! But I will focus on the one issue that is related to my Monday experience. I shouldn’t get my sense of identity or self-worth from homeschooling. Even though I’m so invested as a mom, putting in the time and making sacrifices to teach my kids, I shouldn’t let the outcome of each homeschooling day dictate my joy and peace. There will be good days and bad days. Therefore, joy and peace ought to flow from my relationship with God, resulting in my ability to channel these to my children so I can bless them and minister to them. Then I can teach them the way I ought to even when the circumstances aren’t favorable.

More importantly, my job is not to churn out trophy kids as a tribute to myself. My job is to teach them what it means to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to model this everyday. It is to train them and prepare their hearts and minds to serve God and His purposes.


In light of these aims, what is one Monday when my daughter can’t understand her Singapore Math or my kids groan over their books? Rather than shedding dramatic tears to express my frustration because my children aren’t doing what I want them to, these instances provide me with an opportunity to ask God to show up and take over. If I let Him take over me and take over my kids then He accomplishes His agenda for that day, and it becomes a good day!

Over the past week and a half, I haven’t seen exceptional homeschool days. It’s still hard work to homeschool five kids. But God has saved me from math meltdown situations because I’ve changed my perspective. There may be homeschooling obstacles too big for me, but certainly not for Him! Let’s rest in that thought, moms!

Cultivate a Culture of Grace 

Edric and I come under spiritual attack before almost every major ministry event we are involved in. One can argue that all life ought to be a ministry when you are a follower of Christ. However, the reality is there are certain activities that we participate in that make us more vulnerable than others.

For example, last weekend we had a huge homeschooling conference that we were both involved in. We were speakers for this conference at different points in the program. My topic was on laying a foundation for children’s future success. I spoke alongside my mom. Edric played an integral role as one of the core team members spearheading the event.

Any time we are part of an activity that focuses on marriage or parenting we tend to have an argument or an issue related to these areas during the week preceding it. There weren’t any hitches until Thursday when Edric and I had a conflict about mismanaged expectations and poor communication. One of our speakers was to arrive from the U.S. that evening. So we had to send our vehicle back to the office so the driver could pick him up.

After a meeting during lunch, Edric and I agreed to leave soon after so we could make it home early enough to give the driver a gracious window to deal with the traffic. For some reason, Edric heard the wrong information from me and expected me to get him at the office. I thought we discussed that I would wait for him with the kids at my parents’ house.

My big mistake was leaving my phone on silent mode so I couldn’t hear the four calls that Edric made to me as he panicked to determine my location. (I must confess that this has been a need-to-improve-on area for me.) Since I was so focused on finishing the slides of my presentation for the conference, I missed all of Edric’s calls.

He arrived at my parents’ house flustered because we were running late. He rushed the kids out the door so we could speedily head home. The children scurried to put their shoes and socks on, and that moment of frenzy heightened the tense atmosphere that we entered into as we all piled into our vehicle. Edric, anxious to avoid making our foreign guest wait at the airport, was emotionally charged. He corrected me in front of the kids which is something he usually avoids doing.

Naturally, my instinct was to counter his statements to favor my own position. However the kids were in the car, taking in the scene unfolding before them, and I worried that they would learn to be combative in a disrespectful way if I challenged Edric at that moment. Thankfully, God quietly and gently brought me back to the passage I read that morning: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” (Proverbs‬ ‭17:14) In other words, Joy, keep your mouth shut.

This verse spared me today! Instead of answering back and raising my voice, a scene that I played out in my head several times, I resorted to prayer and apologizing for not answering my phone. Then I just prayed that Edric would realize that he sounded angry in front of the kids.

It’s amazing how much quicker the Holy Spirit is able to speak to Edric than I am! My yakking rarely penetrates his heart in a positive way. But when it’s the Holy Spirit at work, real transformation takes place.

After a while, Edric quieted down. He must have remembered that the kids were watching and listening intently to every word and movement he made in the front seat. So he humbly and sincerely apologized to the kids and to me. I praise God that he is so often this way — willing to say sorry.

In a matter of twenty or so minutes, the conflict had begun and died down without engagement. In a strangely abrupt sort of way, Edric caught himself before his ire escalated into a more impassioned and fiery speech about inefficiency, bad planning, and not picking up phone calls.

One of our sons remarked, “Wow, that was fast, dad!”, alluding to his humble apology.

Two more times afterwards and while we were at home, Edric gently pulled me aside to talk about what went wrong and how we could both improve. He wanted to make sure I was alright, too. I really appreciated that. Edric has always been sincere about his apologies which dissipates whatever hurt I have.

After Edric and I resolved our conflict, I also processed the incident with the kids, explaining to them, “In marriage husbands and wives are not perfect. We make mistakes sometimes, and we do things that hurt each other. But when you have Christ in your marriage, He helps you to forgive one another and love one another.”

I used to have this unrealistic expectation about my marriage and family, that Edric and I wouldn’t make mistakes in front of our children that they could potentially imitate. My great fear as a parent was that our failures, if visible to them, would give them an excuse to follow our wrong choices, rendering us ineffective at teaching and training them to love and follow God. However, I witnessed today, as I have many times, that grace is more powerful than our failures. This doesn’t mean we should trample upon it and take sin lightly. However, it does give me hope and peace to know that when Edric and I fall short of God’s standards for righteousness, we receive God’s grace to heal and repair what is broken. And our kids see this in action.

The bonus is we also receive grace from our children by way of their understanding and forgiveness when we come before them to admit our wrong and acknowledge our need for Christ. Somehow this assures our children that they can be “in process” as well, not impossibly perfect, but on the way to becoming more like Christ.

No family can survive without God’s grace. And it’s foolish and prideful to think that human perfection is what will convince our children that Jesus Christ is worth following. The reality is, we will fail each other as husband, wife, parent or child. We will do things that hurt one another. So it’s really not a question of whether this will happen but how we will respond.

As the offender will we humble ourselves and seek to repair our relationship with those we have wounded, and commit to improve? As the offended will we accept the apology without making the person “suffer” for their mistake? As a witness will we suspend judgment and avoid taking offense for the wronged?

Humanly speaking, it’s counterintuitive to answer these questions in the affirmative. Our carnal instincts would persuade us to do the opposite. However when a family cultivates a culture of grace, where the pursuit of Christ-likeness is encouraged and prioritized but people aren’t rejected for their failures, then each member is compelled to choose humility, forgiveness, and love instead. Although I used to think that perfection would motivate our kids to love and follow God, I am realizing over and over again that it’s seeing and experiencing the power of His grace is more compelling to them.

On a sweet note, Edric hugged me last night after our crazy October schedule simmered down a bit and he said, “I want to be a better husband and father. And I am sorry for being on edge this past week.” He didn’t need to say that because Thursday’s incident had been resolved, but it was a nice plus.

Let me leave you with 2 Corinthians 13:11,14, which we can pray for our families: “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you…The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Let’s pray this for our families! We all need grace! 

Let’s Be Motivating Parents!

I sat through the homeschool conference yesterday particularly inspired by the talk Andrew Pudewa gave on motivation. He shared four types, three laws, and two keys of motivation that made so much sense in the context of homeschooling, raising kids, and dealing with employees that I have to pass these on to you.

For a person to be motivated there is an intangible thing called relevance that must be present. If something is interesting, meaningful, practical, and valuable to a child, they will be motivated to learn about it and do it. Conversely, the absence of relevance makes it difficult to teach a child.

Pudewa defines four forms of relevancy:

Intrinsic Relevancy. Most of us are innately curious and interested in particular topics, activities, and pursuits. For example, my son, Edan enjoys playing the piano. I don’t have to remind him to practice for his weekly lessons. He goes down every morning and plays his pieces without being asked to because he is interested in learning how to play the piano.

To capitalize on the natural curiosity and interest of my kids, I give them the liberty to go in-depth into subject areas that they want to explore further. (Of course this implies that their curiosity and interest is NOT directed towards harmful things.) But take for example, chemistry. When Elijah expressed a liking for chemistry as a 5th grader, I didnt wait for him to be the appropriate school age to learn it. I bought him books on chemistry and he devoured these. He even memorized the periodic table of elements without me requiring him to. 


If a child is able to explore a subject they like, they learn more about it than you can ever imagine they will. In the process, they also learn concepts related to the subject that cover other areas of study.

Pudewa said something like this: Learning should bring children to the subjects. Subjects shouldnt dictate when learning ought to take place. Our problem is we want to cover all the bases, which is impossible. If a teacher attempts to cover all the bases, a child will be a mile wide, and a quarter deep, and will know nothing about everything. Therefore, whatever seed God has planted in our childrens hearts, let’s water it.

Inspired Relevancy. Even if we don’t have a natural curiosity or interest in a topic, activity or pursuit, this changes when we spend time with someone we love or respect whose interest is inspiring.

Growing up, I didn’t have as much a love for the word of God as I ought to have. However, I saw my father pouring over his Bible for hours every morning. Because I had such high regard for my dad, I wondered why in the world he committed so much time to reading his Bible. His love for Gods Word inspired the interest to develop in me. I thought to myself, If the Bible is so important to dad (and mom), then there must be something about it that is meaningful enough to matter to me, too. Today, I read the Bible because it is relevant to my own life. But it began with inspired relevancy and not intrinsic relevancy.

Some years ago, Elijah, our eldest son, became interested in investing in stocks. He discovered investing when he watched one of Edrics TV episodes on personal finance. So at 9 years old, he asked his dad if he can learn more about stocks. Edric took Elijah to a seminar where he learned how to research about stocks and how to set up his own fund.

Edan, our second son, was never interested in stocks, even when he saw Elijah get into it. However, when he realized that Elijah was making money through stocks investing, he wanted to compete with him. As a result, he developed a curiosity for stocks as well. Today, Elijah and Edan are both “young investors.”

Intrinsic relevancy can be positive or negative, especially in the peer-influence-sense. If our children associate with other children who are bad influences on them, they will adapt their values. So we need to pray and teach our children to select friends and surround themselves with peers who love God and seek after Him.

One of the challenges of inspired relevancy when homeschooling is motivating our kids to learn a subject that we aren’t excited about or experts at. This is where we have to utilize other homeschooling parents or resources that will inspire our kids to learn. I’ve had to do this with my kids Filipino subject. I don’t know how to teach this subject well and my own struggles with the language put my kids at a disadvantage. So I invested in Rosetta Stone Tagalog program. It’s an online program that my kids actually enjoy doing, And because they enjoy it, they are learning much more effectively than when I was teaching them.

Contrived Relevancy. This form of motivation is about taking something that is not relevant and using the mechanics of a game to make it relevant. The components of the game have to include two things: The possibility of winning, and the potential of gain and loss (an economic principle that works in real life).

One of the ways I do this with my kids is giving them incentives for completing their work. I’ve explained this in previous posts. I use a tab system for the kids. If they complete X number of pages, they get a tab (those colorful Post Its). Their books are marked with tabs for the quarter or semester. So they can go as fast as they want to in order to earn more tabs or they can do just the minimum (2 to 3 pages), to get at least one tab for that subject, for that day. If they don’t do at least 2 to 3 pages, however, they cannot claim a prize from the mystery jar. By the end of each week, the kids can turn in their tabs to redeem prizes and draw from the mystery jar. If they don’t get at least 20 tabs, they don’t get to draw.


Pudewa explained that the idea of a game appeals particularly to boys who thrive when competition is involved because they like to win! I’ve got three boys so I absolutely believe this!

Enforced Relevancy. This method of motivating kids is what we often use to get our kids to do their homeschooling work, but it is the least effective at producing real learning.

Most kids who go to school are terrorized by the idea that they can’t fail on their exams because these exams carry so much weight both for their class standing and for the approval of their parents. As a result, they study painstakingly for exam week in order to get a good grade. However, little is retained afterwards. They simply study for testing season.

Homeschool kids can be forced into the same mindset when we require them to learn just because they have to.Theres zero inspiration for the child. Since they aren’t engaged, they arent likely to recall what they learn either. They may appear studious and busy at work but nothing is really transferring into long-term memory storage. As much as possible, we need to avoid enforced relevancy.

Let’s move on to the 3 laws of motivation:

Children like to do what they can do, what they think they are good at. I’ve complimented Titus many times for his natural capacity to understand math. He now believes it comes easily for him so he claims that math is one of his favorite subjects. If I hand him his math book, he will readily take it and complete the pages he needs to, rarely asking me for assistance. The trick is, we need to give our kids plenty of opportunity to do what they excel at.


Children want to do what they think they can do. Elijah does a whole lot of complicated programming on the computer. He began with a basic understanding of programming and moved up to higher levels of coding because he experienced enough successes to convince him that he could actually do this. I never said, “That’s way too hard for someone your age to attempt.” I let him believe that he could do it because I saw that he had a bent for it. Hes built a couple of apps since he first started learning the language of computers.

Children hate and refuse to do that which they believe they cannot do. This is usually due to a record of failure, as Pudewa likes to call it. I didn’t like math as a student, primarily because I didn’t think I was any good at it. I struggled in this area in high school. As a result, I had mental blocks. Even if problems were explained to me clearly, I didn’t have confidence in my ability to solve them. However, as a homeschool mom, I’ve had to revisit many math concepts and relearn them. Since I had to start with preschool, I got myself a more solid foundation in arithmetic. And Ive come to realize that I can actually be good at math after all, that I can actually like math! What changed my perspective on math? My level of competency and filling in the gaps that I missed out on as a student.

As a homeschool mom, I cannot force my kids to move on to more difficult concepts, especially in math, unless I help them master the preceding ones. I’ve had to do this with Edan. When Edan doesn’t like to do math its usually because he feels like he can’t do it. So I have to spend time going over every topic he doesnt like until he realizes that its not as difficult as it seems. Then his face will light up and he will say, Thanks mom! I get it now! and I can leave him alone to finish the lesson.

Tiana had a hard time understanding how to decode words in order to read. Instead of forcing her to be at her level, I had to patiently work her up where she ought to be by going back to learning letters and their sounds. We had to practice and practice these until she memorized them, and then we moved on to attempt reading. Now, she is an emerging reader who has experienced enough successes to read not just her leveled readers, but signs, posters, and words she sees in her environment.


In Pudewas words: If you can spend most of the time allowing kids to do something that they can do 60% of the time, and 40% of the time doing what they think they can do, you will have a 100% motivated child.

Lastly, the two secret weapons of motivation are my favorites! Pudewa tells parents to acknowledge and appreciate, and then to smile! If a student knows that he or she is loved, they will be motivated.

When Pudewa was a violin student under THE Mr. Suzuki in Japan, he marveled at how often his teacher commended students, even for the little things. My mom used to say that parents ought to have a detectives eye for positive character in their kids. Whatever we can compliment in them, lets be generous about it. When we deposit into their emotional bank accounts, we build up enough principle to live off the interest, says Pudewa.

Homeschooling parents have a great opportunity to communicate messages of security to their kids because of the time factor. We have so much time with our kids which means we have so many moments to speak life into them and affirm how much we love them. Lets make those moments count, and lets do so with our brightest, sincerest smiles. A smile while homeschooling our kids will put them at ease. It communicates the message, Im enjoying this time with you. What child wouldnt be motivated by that?!

If you want to read more about Andrew Pudewa’s insights on motivation, check out this link:http://iew.com/sites/default/files/article/fileattachment/art_and_science_of_motivation.pdf